A/N: This is my first story in this fandom, and it is also published on AO3. Over half of the story is written, and I should post approximately once a week. The second chapter will come quicker than that as it is already on AO3.
Clarke groaned in pain.
She was lying down, her face in the mud that had formed in the trap near the tree where they had rescued Jasper a few days ago.
She had told Bellamy that her wristband would not report to the Ark that she was dead until she was. Again.
She probably shouldn't have.
The boy had apparently grown tired of her refusing to obey him, and most likely of her influence on the rest of the delinquents. More and more had started to listen to her, when hunger and safety had started to worm their way past their high of freedom.
When the strange acid fog had spread through the forest, Bellamy had found Atom first, and killed him. It was a mercy kill, but she could have saved him.
She should have saved Jasper. Instead of searching for medicine to protect her secret. She should have just healed him, secrecy be damned. She hadn't dared. And now he was dead. Bellamy got tired of his moans of pain and killed him. The others let him, because they did not believe her when she said the seaweed would help him.
And then Charlotte killed Wells. She hadn't seen her best friend since before she was in solitary after her father's execution. He had gotten on the dropship for her. And was dead just a few days later.
She had accused Bellamy, at first. He found Murphy's knife near the dark boy's body and accused him, and nearly hanged him before Charlotte confessed. She threw herself off a cliff, and when Bellamy turned on Murphy, Clarke punched the young man and screamed at the boy to run.
She should have known that Bellamy wouldn't tolerate that. In fact, she was pretty sure that if Octavia hadn't liked her, he would probably have acted sooner.
But the brunette was partially blind to her brother's madness, and she couldn't be around all the time.
Bellamy struck as soon as Clarke went away from the camp on her own. He followed her, knocked her down, tied her with the makeshift rope he had tried to hang Murphy with, and then carried her to the pit trap.
There, he had struck her in the face again, cut the rope with a knife and pushed her in the hole.
''Looks like our Princess wandered off and had a tragic accident!'' He sneered before turning his back and returning to camp.
She wasn't sure the others would truly buy his story, but it was clear that she was no longer safe at the dropship. Thankfully for her, though, Bellamy had – unknowingly – overlooked a very important detail.
She was very hard to kill.
Not that the process wouldn't be painful, with one spike that piercing through her abdomen, and another through her right shoulder.
Gritting her teeth, she moved her left hand until she could use it to push herself up. She trembled as she felt the spikes slowly exiting her body, but forced herself to keep going. If she fell, she would just have to do it all over again, and she had no wish to prolong the pain.
Her shoulder was the first to be free of the spike, and she had felt her wound close as soon as the wood was out. She paused and panted, waiting a couple more seconds for her right arm to be fully healed and for her heartbeat to slow back to normal. Then she used both arms and legs to finish pushing herself up and free of the last spike, her skin and muscles closing behind it.
Once it was over, she carefully rose to her feet, her left hand absently rubbing her stomach as the tingling sensation vanished.
She had never been more thankful for her gift.
She peered out at the top of the pit, screening for Bellamy. Apparently, he hadn't waited for her. Good. But she had to move. He or another delinquent might come to ensure she was dead and it would probably be better if she was no longer there when they did.
She glanced at the spikes that were covered in her blood. Hopefully they would think the Grounders took her body.
The pit wasn't very deep, and she managed to haul herself out with the help of some vines. She then checked her pockets. Bellamy had been in a hurry to deal with her, and hadn't bothered to search her once she was tied up. Meaning that she still had her knife, her half-empty canteen of water and the straps of seatbelt she had taken in hope of making a snare.
Well, on the bright side, she would only have one mouth to feed now – hers.
With a sigh, she started walking away from the dropship. She was on her own, the day was late, she had to find some sort of shelter before dark. Hunting would have to wait until tomorrow.
She found a cave that was narrow, but deep, and with enough space for her to lie down comfortably. Exhausted by the stress of the last few days, she fell asleep as soon as she settled her head on the hard ground.
She awoke shivering when light peeked out in her cave. The days were growing colder, and the holes in her clothing from the spikes did not help. She needed to find a blanket and warmer clothes, if she wanted to survive.
She could heal from almost any wound, but even her gift would not prevent her from freezing to death – it would just prolong her suffering.
She recoiled at the thought, wondering if that was what had happened to her father when he was floated.
Though rare, her gift was not unique in the old world. In fact, it had existed almost since the beginnings of humanity. The gift of healing. Divided by time, and reunited by love. Her parents' love, more precisely. Her.
She was perhaps the first human since Antiquity to have the complete healing gift, enabling her to survive most wounds and illnesses, and to heal others by simply touching them.
In the old world, for an unknown reason, these two facets had evolved in two distinct gifts, with individuals often unaware that they even had one. Those who could heal others – like her mother – were often drawn to professions like medicine, so the fact that patients were better after consulting them was perceived as normal by everyone. Those who could heal themselves – like her father – had often appeared as simply healthy people. After all, most people went through life without suffering a fatal wound.
However, some people noticed the gifts – in themselves or others.
Those who healed had been revered in ancient times, until science led everyone away from the temples. But the power remained, and was transmitted from parent to child. It was sad, really, that so many temples forbade its initiates from having children. There would have been much more healers otherwise.
Those who healed themselves – though Clarke knew intimately that it was not a conscious process at all, it just happened – had unfortunately been a cause of jealousy for many. Often, they had been called demons and hunted. Though resilient, they could still be killed – asphyxia or freezing mostly.
Even on the Ark, her parents had hidden their gifts from others, and ordered her to do the same. They had been right. If Bellamy had known, he would probably have drowned her in the river instead of throwing her in the trap. Secrecy had saved her life.
She shook herself out of her morbid thoughts and considered her options. She could return to the dropship, and try to sneak in long enough to grab clothes and a blanket. But her blonde hair made her noticeable – not to mention her blood-covered clothes. Besides she knew there were few warm clothes in the camp. She couldn't bring herself to steal the few they had.
That left her with only one other option: the grounders. If she could find their camp, village or whatever, she would find furs. Question was, how would she obtain them? Should she steal? Or try to trade? Would they even allow her near them? They had speared Jasper when they crossed the river, but hadn't made any move to attack since then. And, really, they had healed Jasper – so had it been a warning, or were they truly using him as bait?
She sighed and crawled out of her cave. First, she had to eat. Then, she would worry about finding grounders while walking away from the dropship. Since she had decided not to return there, she should put as much distance between the other delinquents and herself.
She spared a thought for Monty. The poor boy had recently lost his best friend, and now he had lost her as well. She hoped he would keep trying to contact the Ark. Bellamy had to be stopped, the sooner the better. Octavia was safe – he would never hurt his own sister, physically at least – and she liked Monty, she would protect him from her brother. Finn as well. He was a coward, but he had charmed several in listening to him and had stood up to Bellamy before.
She set to work, walking away from her shelter and keeping her eyes open for edible berries that she picked as she walked. It must have been almost noon when she heard a river.
It was a much smaller one than when they had tried to reach Mount Weather, but the water was clear and the banks sported the marks of animals. She set up a couple of snares in the bushes, then walked upstream for half a mile – she didn't want to frighten away all the game. She picked more berries and filled her canteen with fresh water.
She glanced down at her stomach and hesitated. The water was cool, but not freezing and she was still covered in dried blood and mud. There were still a good few hours of daylight.
She shrugged and started to remove her clothes. She literally couldn't get sick from a cold, so why hesitate?
She entered the water carefully, watching out for any water snake – the river seemed too small for one as big as the one who attacked Octavia to live in, but she was still wary. She shivered as the wind hit her skin and scrubbed herself, wishing she had some soap to help remove all the dirt she had accumulated.
Despite those conditions, it only took her a few minutes to clean herself, even rinsing her hair. She enjoyed the feeling of being immersed in water – back in the Ark, she would never have believed she might experience it one day – for a few minutes, before exiting the river and laying on the rocky bank to dry.
The sun was slowly starting to descend when she put her clothes back on, grimacing and regretting that she had not thought of washing them at the smell. Then she attempted to comb her still wet hair with her fingers. It would be a mess later.
She was tempted to go and check her snares, but reasoned that she should give it more time. So she started looking for her shelter for the night, and found one about a mile from her snares. She spent the rest of the afternoon picking berries and carrying them to her new cave. It was much larger than the previous one, and she briefly thought of settling there.
But it was still too close from the dropship, and she had to find furs anyway. Still, she resolved to remember the place, just in case.
That night, she ate a third of the berries she had collected before going to sleep early. She would check her snares on the morrow.
She was lucky. Both of her snares had worked. One held a small rabbit, while the other held a much bigger hare. Using her knife, she quickly ended their lives and drained both before putting the snares up again. Since she had chanced on a good spot, she would be a fool not to exploit it.
She returned to her cave, gathering wood along the way. She would need a fire to cook the rabbit. The hare, she decided to keep for now. She might trade it if she found grounders today. Halfway to her camp, she took the time to empty her catches and bury the bowels. She didn't want to deal with another panther when she was only armed with a knife – with her gift, she would probably survive, but she was not a masochist and would rather avoid the pain of that, thank you very much.
Starting a small fire was easy after all the practice of the first few days at the dropship, and she was soon drooling while she waited for the rabbit to cook. She prepared the skin as best as she could, and used her knife to cut away a stripe and pierce the skin at regular intervals until she had fashioned herself a sort of pouch.
She forced herself to be reasonable as she ate, and used her new pouch to store the rest of the meat and berries. If she was careful, she had enough for a couple of days. More if she ate the hare as well. As an afterthought, she also grabbed a few pieces of charcoal after putting out her fire. It was not as good as the charcoal she had in the Ark, but it was better than nothing.
She decided to return to the river and continue to follow it upstream. It would still take her away from the dropship, and she was more likely to stumble on a village if she kept close to a source of clear water. Before that, she went to retrieve her snares. They were empty, but she supposed it was not so surprising in the middle of the day and so soon after setting them up. She added them to her pouch.
The sun was already low when she heard voices and stilled. She tilted her head to pinpoint where the sound was coming from and resumed her walk, though she was now half crouched in the bushes. She managed to distinguish voices and laughter – young laughter.
Soon, she found herself on the outskirt of a very small village. There were a dozen huts at most, but they seemed to be sturdy and at least a few years old. These people had lived here for a while. A woman and two men were conversing while keeping an eye on the four children that were chasing one another. Clarke was almost shocked by the obvious similarities between them – it was obviously two pairs of siblings. She had never seen siblings before Octavia and Bellamy, and she wasn't sure those two had the same father. Anyway, they didn't look as much alike as the three girls and one boy she saw now.
Clarke took a deep breath to calm her nerves. All the adults carried a weapon of some sort, but they seemed friendly enough as they watched their children play. Certainly not the savages she had imagined after Jasper's attack, she considered with some shame.
And again, her gift would protect her if they proved unwelcoming.
Slowly, she walked backwards and rose to her full height, and then walked around the village until she reach a wide trail that she assumed was a road to the village. She approached, trying to look relaxed and not threatening, her hare thrown over her right shoulder.
The conversation stopped as soon as the adults noticed her, but the children kept playing for a while longer. When everyone was staring at her, she paused and raised her empty hands with a nervous smile, then pointed to her hare, unsure of what she should say – and afraid her tight throat would not let out more than an unbecoming squeak. Two of the adults herded the children to a nearby house while the third approached her. From the corner of her eyes, she noticed other people staring at her from behind their windows.
Obviously, they weren't used to seeing strangers.
The man who had approached her addressed her in a foreign language, and Clarke started. She knew they had landed on the East coast of the former United States, and she had – apparently foolishly – expected the survivors to speak English. She knew, of course, that languages evolved, but for a completely new one to emerge in less than a hundred years?
Her confusion must have shown, because the man shook his head and repeated himself slowly. When she shook her head and shrugged, he tried in another language though it was clear that he was not fluent in this one. Still, Clarke couldn't understand the words.
It wasn't hard to guess what he must be asking, though, so she again pointed to the hare, then to him and her tattered clothes. She saw his eyes widen when he saw the hole on her abdomen, and she belatedly remembered that her clothes were still covered in blood.
'Great'. She thought. 'Now, they are gonna think I stole this from a corpse, since I don't even have a scar!'
The man took a cautious step forward, pointed to the knife in her belt and then to a nearby basket. With a nod, Clarke slowly took her knife and threw it in the designated basket. Instantly, the man relaxed and, turning around, called out in the first language. Several people exited their homes, including the children from earlier.
The man exchanged a few words with some women, pointing to her, the hare and her clothes several times. Finally, a woman went into her house and came back out with a small package. She stood in front of Clarke and showed her the items.
It was clothes, made of leather and furs. It took some more gesturing, but Clarke was able to touch the items to appreciate their sturdiness and thickness. They seemed much more reliable than her current clothes. With a smile, she pointed to the whole lot, then her hare and tilted her head in question with a smile. The woman wrapped all the clothes in the cloak and handed it to her while Clarke offered her the hare.
The woman grinned, and then grabbed her hand, pulling her inside her house and explaining to her through more gestures that she should change. Clarke accepted with a grateful smile.
The clothes were warm and comfortable, and the cloak would serve her well as a blanket for now. Moreover, she was reassured that at least some grounders were friendly.
She was surprised when the man who had first talked to her approached her when she exited the hut, talking and gesturing with a smile. After some time, she understood that he was inviting her to eat with them all – her hare was being chopped with vegetables and herbs in a big pot near the bonfire in the center of the village. She was hesitant – she had just offered them the hare, surely she was not supposed to eat it? – but the man and others insisted and she accepted. The less she used her meager provisions, the better, and the sun was setting soon. Hopefully, they wouldn't mind if she slept by the fire after the meal.
The meal was the most tasty thing she had ever had, and the company very enjoyable, even if she couldn't understand the conversations. The families made an effort to include her by gesturing, and even taught her a couple sentences. She was soon able to introduce herself and she drew animals and other things in the dirt to ask the words used for them. The children were delighted by her drawings, pulling on her sleeve to ask her for more animals, which led to many childish imitations with hands to signify antlers or tails.
All in all, it was the most fun she had had since her father's death.
When the parents led their children to bed, she continued talking to the adults, her drawings becoming more practical. One woman pointed to her hair and tried to ask her something. After some time, she understood that the grounders were intrigued by the color of her hair. Looking around, she noticed that all the grounders had brown or dark hair. One child, she recalled had dark blonde hair. Apparently, her shade wasn't common. She just shrugged.
Blonde hair was less common than dark, even before the bombs. It would make sense that it was even rarer now, and since this village was small and apparently out of the way, it wasn't so surprising that they had never encountered her particular coloring before. With an internal grimace, she realized that the same was probably true about her eyes. Which would make her quite noticeable wherever she went.
Well, she couldn't see Bellamy making peace with the grounders to ask about her anytime soon, so it probably didn't matter. As long as she stayed out of trouble with the locals, no one else would have any reason to search for her.
The villagers even offered her a bed for the night, which she accepted gratefully. It was the most comfortable lie-in she had experienced since her old bed in her parents' rooms in the Ark. The presence of real walls around her and a ceiling above her made her feel safe, and she had her best night sleep since coming to the ground.